The first work of fiction by a President of the United States—a sweeping novel of the American South and the War of Independence.
In his ambitious and deeply rewarding novel, Jimmy Carter brings to life the Revolutionary War as it was fought in the Deep South; it is a saga that will change the way we think about the conflict. He reminds us that much of the fight for independence took place in that region and that it was a struggle of both great and small battles and of terrible brutality, with neighbor turned against neighbor, the Indians’ support sought by both sides, and no quarter asked or given. The Hornet’s Nest follows a cast of characters and their loved ones on both sides of this violent conflict—including some who are based on the author’s ancestors.
At the heart of the story is Ethan Pratt, who in 1766 moves with his wife, Epsey, from Philadelphia to North Carolina and then to Georgia in 1771, in the company of Quakers. On their homesteads in Georgia, Ethan and his wife form a friendship with neighbors Kindred Morris and his wife, Mavis. Through Kindred and his young Indian friend Newota, Ethan learns about the frontier and the Native American tribes who are being continually pressed farther inland by settlers. As the eight-year war develops, Ethan and Kindred find themselves in life-and-death combat with opposing forces.
With its moving love story, vivid action, and the suspense of a war fought with increasing ferocity and stealth, The Hornet’s Nest is historical fiction at its best, in the tradition of such major classics as The Last of the Mohicans.
With this intricately detailed novel of the American South and the Revolutionary War, President Carter becomes our first chief executive, past or present, to publish a work of fiction. By concentrating on Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas from 1763 to 1783, Carter takes a fresh look at this crucial historical period, giving life and originality to a story usually told from the viewpoint of the northern colonies. There's a large cast of characters, but the focus is on the families of Ethan and Epsey Pratt and neighbors Kindred and Mavis Morris, backwoods Georgia homesteaders who are swept up, albeit reluctantly, in the revolution against the British. Among many other subjects, Carter covers military tactics, natural history, 18th-century politics, celestial navigation, the causes of the war, the sexual practices of both Indians and pioneers and how to tar and feather a man without killing him. Fascinating tidbits about well-known historical figures abound: "After some New Jersey militia actually mutinied Washington decided to set an example of stern discipline; he forced the top leaders to draw lots, and the winners shot the losers." Carter's style leans toward the academic ("Mr. Knox, what's the difference between Whigs and Tories?"), but readers who can put up with the occasional lecture will learn fascinating truths about this exceedingly brutal war and the stories of the men and women who lived and died in the course of it. Those seeking a riveting prose style would be advised to look to more experienced fiction writers, but anyone who has ever wondered about the difference between a Whig and a Tory will find this an interesting and informative read.